The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 14, 2014

Alabama insurance marketplace options to increase


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabamians looking for health insurance will likely have more choices in the second year of the insurance marketplace.

United Healthcare has filed plans with state and federal regulators to offer coverage in all 67 counties during the second year of the program, state Insurance Department spokesman Mark Flower said Monday.

United Healthcare took a wait-and-see approach during the first year and did not offer individual plans in any county.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama spokeswoman Koko Mackin said it again intends to offer individual plans in all 67 of the state's counties. She said no major changes are planned from what the Birmingham-based company offered in the first year.

Humana spokesman Mitch Lubitz said the company has applied to continue offering plans in the three counties it serves now: Jefferson, Shelby and Madison.

"That is where Humana has a solid business presence and provider network in Alabama," he said Monday.

Fowler said the state Insurance Department reviews the plans to make sure they comply with state regulations, but the final approval is up to federal regulators.

Blue Cross dominates the health insurance business in Alabama, with about a 90 percent market share. United Healthcare is second with about 5 percent.

According to the federal government, 98,870 Alabamians selected a plan during the first year of the exchange. That exceeded the government's goal of 82,000.

Open enrollment for the second year of the marketplace begins Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 15. Coverage can start as early as Jan. 1.

Alabama's health insurance marketplace was set up by the federal government because Alabama officials chose not to create a state-run exchange under the federal health care law.


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